Monday, 31 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012

Well, what a year it's been... No, really - it has. Consider:
It was the year of the London Olympics, an event greeted here on Nigeness with, I must confess, something less than wholehearted enthusiasm - and which turned out to confound all the dismal predictions herein passim by being an unmitigated triumph. (The thing is, you see, I have to call one wrong every now and then to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities...)
And it was the year of the Diamond Jubilee. Who will ever forget the BBC's coverage of the great river pageant,  as comprehensive a shambles as has ever been seen on the nation's screens? The man in charge, one George Entwistle, was duly rewarded with the Director Generalship (after several hundred thousands of pounds had been spent on 'headhunters') and walked the plank after 56 days in office.
But let's talk about the weather. 2012 began with drought - and a glorious early spring - but by May had switched to rainy mode and has seldom relented since, ending up as the wettest year on record. The result was the worst butterfly summer I can remember, following hard on the heels of one of the best and earliest springs. But I enjoyed a few golden days on the Surrey hills and in the Derbyshire dales - and a magical encounter with a Valezina - and when the rain did ease off briefly in late summer, it turned out to be a prodigious year for Chalk-hill Blues, which I hadn't seen in such quantities since boyhood. And talking of magical encounters, this was the year of my very first meeting with that legendary rarity the Camberwell Beauty. Yes, it was in another country (where it is known as the Mourning Cloak and is surprisingly common), but it was still one of the butterfly experiences of a lifetime...
On the book front, much of my most enjoyable reading has been rereading, as usual, and it's not been a year of great discoveries. I've spent a while exploring the extraordinary life and work of Ivy Compton-Burnett, belatedly discovered Willa Cather and read my first collection of Alice Munro - I'll be back for more of both of them, I'm sure. Reading Byron Rogers's two classic biographies, of J.L. Carr and R.S. Thomas, gave me (and, I trust, blog readers) much harmless pleasure. And I finally read Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond and was not disappointed.
Among the various joys of a year blessed with an abundance of them were the golden spider silk cape in the V&A, and some glorious churches visited in Herefordshire and Norfolk. And, topping it all - this was the year I became a grandfather, with the birth of the auspiciously named Sam.
Even despite the Lost Summer, this was a vintage year.

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